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Neuroscience and Medicalisation: Sociological Reflections on Memory, Medicine and the Brain

Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences

ISBN: 978-1-84855-880-9, eISBN: 978-1-84855-881-6

Publication date: 17 October 2011


This chapter takes a critical look at the sociological notion of ‘medicalisation’ in relation to recent trends and developments in neuroscience, neurotechnology and society, taking memory, medicine and the brain as our prime focus and the disease category of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) as our empirical case study. Five relational nexuses in particular are identified as relevant to these developments and debates, namely the bio-psych nexus, the pharma-psych nexus, the selves-subjectivity nexus, the wellness-enhancement nexus, and the neuroculture-neurofuture nexus. We show that developments in memory medicine and the shifting boundaries of cognitive health, as embodied and expressed in the case of MCI, shed further valuable light on these issues and the interconnectivity of these relational nexuses. As an emergent disease and susceptibility category, MCI illuminates not only the fuzzy boundaries between normal and abnormal cognitive functioning, but also the working of neuroscientific, neurocultural and pharmacological interests, which, in this case, are already claiming MCI as the next locus of enhancing the mind and optimising aging. Thinking both within and beyond medicalisation challenges us to find new ways to critically understand the ideas about life and health as they travel, translate or migrate from (neuro)scientific and clinical spheres to cultural life and patient experience.



Williams, S.J., Katz, S. and Martin, P. (2011), "Neuroscience and Medicalisation: Sociological Reflections on Memory, Medicine and the Brain", Pickersgill, M. and Van Keulen, I. (Ed.) Sociological Reflections on the Neurosciences (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 13), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 231-254.



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